Category Archives: Keeping Sane

Veteran’s Day Thanks


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today is Veteran’s Day, and today I’m thankful for my Loving Husband.

Loving Husband is currently serving in the Navy Reserves. He served on active duty for the first nine years of our marriage, during which time we were stationed all over the world. He flew helicopters in the Persian Gulf, talked to satellites in Ukraine, and did some things in undisclosed locations that he can’t tell me about because he’d have to kill me.

I love my husband. In addition to his humor and intelligence, I love his sense of duty, his patriotism, and his selflessness. He serves his country as he serves his family — diligently, lovingly, and tirelessly.

And I cannot wait for that service to end.

I’ve never loved being a Navy wife. I never really fit in with the other spouses, and my view of the military and government very rarely meshes with those of people who choose to serve. I hated not being able to pursue my own career, and I hated being parted from my husband for up to six months at a time.

But now it’s worse. Since he’s a reservist now, his deployments are different from what they were when he was active duty. They are longer, harder, and more frightening. I had thought that six months of worrying about my husband on a ship in the Persian Gulf was bad.

But at the end of December, he’s going to landlocked Afghanistan.

For a year.

That’s twice as long as he’s ever been gone before. And now we have a toddler.

My boys.

My boys.

And I’m not thankful for his sacrifice in missing a year of his son’s life. I’m not thankful for having to, once more, put my own needs on a back burner so that he can serve his country. I’m not thankful for a war which should have been over years ago, or for politicians who continue to send our soldiers into the line of fire when there is no clear and present danger. I’m ANGRY.

I am angry at those war hawks who send our men and women into harm’s way because they like to throw America’s weight around. Preventing other nations from thinking that America is weak is not a justification for war. It is a lazy excuse that masks a juvenile desire to exert power. It is a bully’s reasoning.

Theoretically, we humans are the most intelligent and evolved species this planet has ever seen. We have thousands of years of history in which philosophers and religious leaders have touted the cause of peace and dismissed the idea that war could in any way solve the problems faced by humanity. Millions of people even now hold fast to faiths with a central tenet of peace on earth.

(Photo via by kellyeld.)

(Photo via by kellyeld.)

And we’ve ignored it all. Human history is drenched in the blood of young men and women fighting for … what?

For every soldier who dies to protect his nation from death and enslavement, there have been any number of others who died over a boundary dispute. Or a resource. Or a religious disagreement. Or any other issue that could be resolved through diplomacy and mature discourse with a willingness to compromise.

I am grateful to those who died protecting our nation. I’m grateful to those who sacrificed to keep us safe, and who continue to sacrifice to keep us safe. I’m grateful for all those who have served our country, even when the cause was not just.

And though I thank all those soldiers for their sacrifice, no matter what the cause, it seems like a better way to thank them would be to stop such wars from happening.

I’m going to do that by voting. In every election. I’m going to vote for representatives who support our troops by not sending them into harm’s way unnecessarily. Who will use any diplomatic means necessary to resolve a dispute before talk of war even comes up. Who will fund the programs that make the lives of our service members and their families easier, from Head Start programs and food stamps to raising the minimum wage. Who understand what poor thanks it is to relegate our disabled veterans to homelessness, and to have the children of our soldiers forced to go to public schools that can’t afford textbooks, much less art or music classes.

And between now and that next election, I’m going to hold my serviceman very tight. I’m going to love him for all I’m worth, and when he leaves I’m going to cry into my pillow. But I will get through this, and when he comes home again I will be so, so thankful for him and for his safe return.

Some days, gratitude comes really hard.

An Open Letter To Princess Kate

Being pregnant is an occupational hazard of being a wife. ~ Queen Victoria

Dear Kate (can I call you Kate? It’s so much friendlier than Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge),

How are you holding up? I know, pregnancy sucks, even without hyperemesis gravidarum, which in layman terms means, “Oh holy shit, this is AWFUL.” You can’t keep any food down, you feel bloated and don’t fit into your favorite clothes. And the worst? You are getting unsolicited advice from EVERYONE. I mean, seriously, you’ve got paparazzi following you around, ‘journalists’ analyzing your every move, strangers sending letters to tell you what to eat and how to raise your baby. And (let’s be honest here), you’ve got a grandmother-in-law that you REALLY don’t want to piss off by puking on her shoes.

One SERIOUSLY intimidating in-law! (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Stuckert/PR, via Wikimedia Commons.)

One SERIOUSLY intimidating in-law! (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Stuckert/PR, via Wikimedia Commons.)

So basically, your pregnancy is exactly like everybody else’s. It differs in the details, and in the degree of interest that it generates in strangers (though not by as much as you think — more on that later), but overall, you’re feeling very much like every other woman pregnant with her first child.

This is a letter of solidarity. This is a blogger issuing unsolicited advice to a stranger; but you know, I do it out of love. I was at your wedding, after all. Which is to say, I hauled my almost-nine-months-pregnant bulk to the living room at six in the morning so that I could cry over how beautiful you looked, cry over how handsome your prince was, cry over the hilariously silly hats, and generally remind myself that true love wins in the end. I went through a lot of tissues that morning.

This is how I looked 'round about your wedding day. I felt like a beached whale.

This is how I looked ’round about your wedding day.

Plus, you know, we have a lot in common. We both have supportive and loving husbands to shore us up during the hard times. We both have unbelievably fantastic hair (well, mine would be if I ever had the time to wash it). And we both look really good in indigo. Plus, there’s the whole Kate/Kathy thing. So that’s enough to be going on with, I think.

This is you at about the same time. Don't worry, I'm not bitter. (Photo by Dogbertio 14, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This is you at about the same time. Don’t worry, I’m not bitter. (Photo by Dogbertio 14, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Now, here’s how I picture your life right now. Yeah, you have royal obligations, and you meet them with an admirable degree of grace. But I’m also picturing you spending more time than you’d really like to lying in bed, feeling unwell, wearing oversized sweats and a graphic tee shirt from some event you attended in college, surfing the internet for reassurance and distraction. Reassurance that you’re not the only one who feels the way you do, and distraction from the unpleasantness of it all.

You’re also probably spending a great deal of time dreaming, fantasizing, about the beautiful baby that you will have when this is all over. Will it be a boy or a girl? Have blonde hair, brown, or maybe even red? Will he have your dimples? Will she have Wills’ smile?

Baby toes. Just as good for kissing as you're imagining them to be. (Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange.)

Baby toes. Just as good for kissing as you’re imagining them to be. (Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange.)

And there’s also the scarier kind of fantasizing. What kind of mom will you be? Will you be able to counteract the scary things in your world — being constantly in the public eye, so much pressure to be a certain way — and raise your child to be a good, healthy, functional person?

Believe it or not, I’ve been there. All women who have children have been. Being visibly pregnant is to be a little bit of a rock star, even for those of us who live in relative anonymity. Strangers stop you on the street, chide you for eating/drinking/doing whatever it is that you’re in the middle of right then. They want to touch your stomach, they insist on hearing personal details of your health and pregnancy. And all the while, you’re walking the line between excitement and terror.

So here’s some unsolicited advice from a semi-anonymous blogger in America. You’ll probably never even see it. But I like to think that you will.

Trust yourself. You are the final word when it comes to your child. If something feels wrong to you, even if it’s something that you’re being told to do by a doctor or someone else that you respect, get a second opinion. Or a third. You know your own body, and ultimately that of your child, better than anybody else does.

Trust yourself. You don’t want your kid to grow up a spoiled, obnoxious royal? Set limits that feel right to you. All your baby really needs are warm arms to snuggle in, a safe place to sleep, and your voice singing softly. Prada booties are only necessary if they make YOU really happy.

Babies do not need shoes. But sometimes mommies need their babies to have shoes anyway. (Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange.)

Babies do not need shoes. But sometimes mommies need their babies to have shoes anyway. (Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange.)

Trust yourself. You chose this life, but you don’t have to buy into all the trappings. Raise your child in a way that feels right to you, including or discounting tradition as seems best to you. Your relationship with your child is the most important thing, not pictures taken in Edward VI’s moldy old christening gown.

Trust your husband. Seriously. That dude loves the living daylights out of you, and he’s going to be a wonderful father. Trust him to take care of both of you. Royal or not, you three are a family.

(Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange.)

(Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange.)

Trust yourself. It’s not advice that I always take for myself, but it’s advice that every new mom needs to hear.

Believe it or not, there’s a largely silent sector of the public who, when we heard that you were pregnant, smiled and quietly congratulated you in our heads. We’re the ones who, when we heard of the difficulties you’ve had, quietly sent prayers and positive vibes to you to help you get through. We’re not devoting energy to speculation about gender/names/designer baby gear. We’re just seeing in you another woman who is expecting her first child. We, which is to say I, empathize.

Love to you,

Kathy V.

PS: This gleeful toddler smile came as a result of me saying, “Sausage! Smile for Kate Middleton!” So, you know. Eyes on the prize.

Yes. Those are cow-print baby legwarmers. And they make me very happy.

Yes. Those are cow-print baby legwarmers. He doesn’t need them. And they make me very happy.

The Return Of The Blogger

Art saved me; it got me through my depression and self-loathing, back to a place of innocence. ~ Jeanette Winterson

I haven’t written in a long time, have I? It feels like an eternity.

My depression is lifting. Little by little, ever so slowly. I’m doing much better.

And I want to write again. I think writing will help speed the process of healing — and if it doesn’t, well, it certainly won’t hurt.

I don’t want this to turn into a mental health blog. I want it to stay funny. But I can’t always find the funny right now, so sometimes you might have some more somber musings here. I hope you’ll all bear with me.

There’s been a lot going on here, with Loving Husband and Sausage and me. We bought a house, and moved into it. I was in a play. I won a gloriously strange mug. Sausage has learned new words, and how to manipulate me into giving him M&M’s. Loving Husband has gone back into the Navy for the next year. Lots of living has happened, with all sorts of things to write about. I’ll try to get to it all.

Thank you so much to those of you who sent me words of encouragement and love, through comments and through email. You have no idea how very much that all meant to me. You know who you are.

This is the blogging horse. I'm going to try to get back up on it, large, terrifying beastie that it is. (Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange)

This is the blogging horse. I’m going to try to get back up on it — large, terrifying beastie that it is. (Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange)